The season’s almost upon us. Which means you may in fact be tempted to watch it with other people.
This is unavoidable at the game, but unlike at TD Garden, you can in fact choose the people you want to spill beer on when you invite people over, which is always fun to have a good lark at all your inside jokes and enjoy the game as it was intended to be enjoyed: with others.
But then what do you have to do? Clean out every last surface of your home to make your friends think you live in a display? Drop a catering table in the middle of your living room? What should the optimal setup for a Watch Party look like?
Don’t worry, your friends at SCoC have you covered. We can give you a series of great calls to make sure your experience, and theirs, is fun, safe, and good for everybody.
The Prime Screen
Back in the day, you almost had to be crowded around the set your mother bought back when TVs were still considered part of the furniture to actually see what was going on during broadcast games. Nowadays, a full 40 inch TV with high-definition LCD display will set you back maybe $300.
You may not even need that much however, if the gathering is small enough; you could cut it down to a mere 32 inch TV that might cost less than a complete set of brake rotors and gives you the entire experience of a quality hockey broadcast blessed with the kind of camera WSBK-TV would’ve killed for back when you first started watching hockey!
The Second, Smaller Screen
An absolute gamechanger, if you can make it work.
Pack enough people into any room and ultimately you’ll run out of places to sit. People will end up crowding the already large TV you’ve no doubt purchased, and not everybody’s comfortable with that.
Smaller TVs from upstairs, Tablets with an app, computer monitors with a PERFECTLY LEGAL FEED I ASSURE YOU, allowing you to spread out your guests in a more orderly fashion so people aren’t competing for real estate on the couch or the kitchen table chairs. It also allows for any rowdy children to have a place to possibly set up for a bit while the grownups enjoy the game.
This is much easier for national games, however. NESN app can be a pain.
The Right People
Thankfully we no longer need to be apart to enjoy games, but if your friends are still feeling the sniffles, there’s nothing wrong with having friends come in over Zoom for a few minutes!
But of course, this is for all the family, friends, and friends-who-might-as-well-be-family you can gather at once in one place and still comfortably get up and go to the bathroom. Getting people you haven’t seen in awhile is a plus, then you have something to do during commercials and pregame: catch-up!
Maybe invite a friend you know is an opposing fan. If there’s one thing people love, it’s getting The Full Bruins Experience, which also involves a light bit of chirping. It’s all good, though!
The Totems of Power
Sports fans, and hockey fans especially, are superstitious. They know most of the time they can’t really change things... but can they? Who can say. Certainly not when you have the good luck charms you’ve carried for years. Maybe they’re front and center, like a lucky stick you’ve been using since you were in training skates that must be tapped before a power play, or just holding a lucky rabbit’s foot or a plushy during play. Maybe if you want a player to score a goal you gotta tap a bobblehead of their image to get them going.
Whatever it is you need, it’s gotta be there. After all, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work, right?
Just be prepared to explain it. Adjust rituals for number of folks present.
The Intermission Snacking
At games you usually try to eat before the puck drops so you don’t get caught in the many snaking lines that form outside kiosks at the Garden, but at home, you’re only limited by what you bring to the table yourself. Which is good! It’s just governed by how hockey does time.
Most of the time, games are at 7 o’clock eastern, meaning you have plenty of time to stem the tide if you time it right: a good pile of pizza boxes should show up maybe 15 minutes before gametime if you order from the right venue.
Three 20-minute-split periods with ten minutes in-between requires what would normally be a half time meal to be a very short, intermittent thing. Coffee Tables are king in hockey for this exact reason, and can be loaded up with any number of snacks: Chips and Salsa, bowls upon bowls of your favorite snack food, Pigs in Blankets, Mozzarella and Tomato slices for the North Enders, that sort of thing. But for the
try-hards artisans, this is where the hours-d’ourves of stuffed bread and specialty dips (like buffalo chicken or bacon) can become a major hit.
For all ages, preferably. Some of us still have kids we can’t pawn off on a babysitter for the night or would prefer to avoid The Creature at all times, so it helps to keep some stuff like water, juice and soda around, and clearly labelled. Beer is king in hockey, of course, but in cases like this I recommend having a dedicated cooler for it away from the non-alcoholic options. You can drink liquor if you wanna... but c’mon, commercials in hockey don’t take that long. Save that for pre-game.
Because of the sharp drop in temperature, a common play is to keep coolers outside and let nature do the hard work your fridge could be doing. And If it’s after a recent snowstorm? Everybody loves pulling a bottle of beer out of a snowbank; it’s practically tradition. It also helps sober your friends up a little bit if they’re getting too rowdy and need to cool off by stepping outside for a second.
The Dad Space, The Space for Dads™
Sometimes, your Dad, or someone else’s Dad, may show up. This means you need to have a Dad Space.
You see, upon becoming a Dad your entire ability to enjoy games changes in ways seemingly unperceivable to you, but obvious to the neutral observer. When you become a father, the optimal place for you to watch the game is no longer from the comfort of your seat, but from a very specific spot in the living room. This is The Dad Space, and it is your home now.
The Dad Space must be exactly three feet from the entry of the living space and anywhere from three to eight feet away from the nearest chair or couch, and exactly four feet from the television. The reason for this is that you know at any time you could be called away to do some menial chore, but if you can sense it on the wind, you’ll be able to sit and then park yourself there for the next several hours without concern. So you must take this particular space in order to weather it. Dad Space should also have plenty of room for the following actions.
- Folding of arms across chest
- Putting hands on hips
- Readjustment of caps/belt
- Holding beverage of choice like minor lord in 12th century Slovenia
- Minor grousing about power play movement. Nothing gets Dad grousing quite like lackluster power play movement.
Dad might go over to grab some snacks, but he will return. You may have to move past him, but you’ll never move him.
Please move furniture whenever possible to accommodate for possibilities of further fathers entering the room after ensuring the thermostat has been untouched and that the snow, is in fact, “really comin’ down out there”.
The Back-Up Plan
Sometimes... things happen. The NESN feed screws up, the game turns into the kind of blowout no sane person would want to watch, the satellite gets knocked off the roof, what have you. What separates the good hosts of parties from the great hosts of parties is being able to roll through with the punches.
There’s nothing wrong with having a game console handy to get a little co-op NHL Twenty-something action, or some form of COMPLETELY LEGAL EMULATION of classic game NHL Hitz to take people’s minds off the game. Outside of gaming, there’s nothing wrong with everyone turning their brains off and enjoying a classic Kung-Fu comedy like The Magnificent Butcher or Kung-Fu Hustle while enjoying the spread you’ve put out.
Besides, we can always complain here on SCoC about the game crapping out during the exposition!